A couple of days after hearing that Chris Cornell died, I’d planned to pen a short piece on my thoughts but then I read the excellent It’s Not What You Think by Rich Larson, which totally resonated with me — a lot of it I wished that I’d written, and then coupled with Tom Morello’s moving poem, I decided that there was nothing further I needed to say online.
Everyone that has dwelled on the news of his passing appears to have taken away something different from it: a rock era is dying (or has died), prescription medicine contributing to suicidal thoughts needs to be stopped, it was selfish of him to leave his family behind, Eddie Vedder is the last one left… to name a few, but whatever it may be, it’s not the point. Grief is grief, surfacing in different ways among us, and loss is loss, and through social media we have come together to feel this together.
I don’t really know what to take away from Chris Cornell leaving us just yet. Only that I have felt this loss deeper than anticipated. When I think of his departure, I can immediately hear the reverberating, haunting guitar sounds that he pushed onto the audience that I was part of, in 2011, at the end of his Beatles cover, Ticket To Ride. And I remember the way he stepped off the stool, put down his guitar and walked off the stage as if to say, “I’m just going to leave you with this”.
I have not been able to work on my novel since the day that I found out. I know that sounds ridiculous. Because I didn’t know Cornell. (Obviously.) Also, I am not a colossal Soundgarden or Audioslave fan (in fact, I feel about Soundgarden and Chris Cornell exactly as Rich Larson does) so why do I feel so affected?
Just who am I hurting for?
Is it the Seattle scene? Pearl Jam? The Cornell family? Soundgarden and Audioslave fans? My Pearl Jam family? The music industry? Mental illness sufferers?
Perhaps I’m hurting for all of them.
I have read some horrendous articles in the media this week relating to Chris’s decision to suicide (just seeing the words Chris Cornell and suicide in a sentence still sends chills down my spine) that have unnecessary hate angles. One such negative headline being the possible reasons for Eddie Vedder’s silence. I mention that specifically because I am (profoundly) a Pearl Jam fan (their music led me to Cornell) and I found that piece of “news” disrespectful to Cornell, and to the Vedder family, but that’s all I will say on that. I just wish that those people looking for an angle to elicit hate would go and take a long nap and come back when they remember where their heart should be and what the real tragedies are…
Such as feeling so alone that it drives one to death. That’s nothing short of fucking heartbreaking. Prescription drug-induced or not.
I can find a few positives to hold onto during this time. That the grief for him binds people together — new bonds, and strengthening existing ones. That his music reaches more fans. That his memory lives on his music. That his music continues to save people, even though it could not save him.
The only time that I got to photograph Chris Cornell was when Soundgarden were part of Soundwave Adelaide in 2015. One of the pictures that I posted of CC on social media had fans coming together and sharing a few words in their grief, which I was touched by, and so I thought people might like to see all the images that I took from the set.
So I am just going to leave you with this…